A woman in custody who was raped by a police officer at the Mthatha Central Police Station has obtained justice after nearly 12 years. The Mthatha regional court sentenced warrant officer Mhlobo Mpela, 52, to 18 years ' imprisonment. Lux...
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A woman in custody who was raped by a police officer at the Mthatha Central Police Station has obtained justice after nearly 12 years.
The Mthatha regional court sentenced warrant officer Mhlobo Mpela, 52, to 18 years ' imprisonment.
Luxolo Tyali, spokesperson for the National Prosecution Authority of the Eastern Cape, said the rape took place on 23 November 2008. Mpela, then a sergeant who was in service for the night, went around 9 pm to the female holding cells.
"The police officer took his then 44-year-old wife from the cells to one of the police station 's offices where he assaulted her twice, both anally and orally, and then ordered her to clean herself with tissue paper before returning her to the police station.
On her return to the jail, the woman told other inmates of the attack.
She reported the rape to a police officer the next morning who had come to do a detained headcount, "but the officer reportedly told her that they were still occupied with handing over duties."
Later that day, when she reported the matter to a duty officer, she managed to get her case registered and she was taken for medical examination to the Sinawe Thuthuzela Care Center (TCC), Mthatha General Hospital.
Samples of DNA have also been obtained from the laboratory where the crime was committed.
Tyali said: "The NPA accepts the sentence and claims that it is a strong sign that it can prosecute without fear, favor or discrimination, even though the crime is committed by law enforcement officers."
The court endured prolonged delays due to the deaths of the original presiding magistrate and prosecutor, Tyali explained. The victim has since changed counsel for the defense.
The court had to begin again.
Mpela did not plead guilty.
He said the woman, then on trial for her husband's murder, had asked him to help her make an emergency phone call, and had initiated the sexual encounter herself.
Prosecutor Mluleki Shude summoned seven witnesses, including the TCC doctor, investigator of the Independent Police Investigation Directorate (Ipid), and provided evidence of DNA that linked the accused to the crime.
Although the state sought life imprisonment, the magistrate Joe Govuza found that serious and compelling circumstances requiring a deviation were present. He said that working in his favor was the fact that Mhlobo was a first offender and had performed his official duties without blemish, even receiving a promotion in the past 10 years.